As the seasons change, grooming clients will increasingly seek solutions for summer skin and coat issues caused by warmer weather, while manufacturers offer effective products that maximize business efficiency.
When faced with addressing an animal’s seasonal discomfort due to allergies, shedding or simply engaging in a more active lifestyle during spring and summer, a pet parent’s only goal is to improve the comfort of their furry family members. While dedicated groomers want to help pets, they must also remain informed about the most fitting bathing products to meet the needs specific to each case. By examining the latest shampoos and conditioners, while also working with trusted brands, groomers can manage an efficient business while healing pets entrusted in their care.
While a successful grooming business should aim for customer retention that secures regular appointments from its clientele, it’s important to educate pet parents regarding maintenance practices that will keep animals comfortable and healthy between visits. By arming clients with information regarding solutions, groomers will establish the trust that is integral to forging a relationship that evolves past the need for an occasional appointment. With this in mind, Jeff Werner, national sales manager of Pet King Brands, advises groomers to recognize opportunity in seemingly small gestures.
“ZYMOX Shampoo and Conditioning Rinse is used all year, but there tends to be a lift in sales during the spring and summer months when it’s warmer and allergies are at their peak,” he says. “Many groomers offer allergy skin services to their clients. This can involve weekly baths with the ZYMOX Shampoo and Conditioner and sending the client home with a bottle of conditioner to apply to trouble spots between baths.”
As professionals who are dedicated to pet care and health, groomers must develop a plan for the service they want to provide to clients. While they should create an experience that can’t be duplicated in a client’s home, groomers can establish a bond between themselves and customers, as well as reputable manufacturers, by providing samples of effective products and advising on solutions to promote pet comfort.
One of the challenges during warmer months is using products that protect against parasites, yet are also gentle enough to soothe irritation through cultivating an environment that generates healthy skin and coat. For many manufacturers, this has led to a focus on ingredients that have been sourced from nature throughout history and are used as alternatives to pesticides that could potentially harm pets and groomers. Experiencing more contact with products than the animals they are bathing, groomers should have additional concerns when considering the safety of product ingredients.
“The natural oils in these products create an environment that the parasites can’t tolerate, and this aids in the relief in the itching of skin conditions due to flea and tick infestation,” says Mary Meeks, president of Nature’s Specialties. “They are safe when used correctly and were known to be used even during biblical times. We recommend the Quick Relief Neem, Aloe Re-Moisturizer and Wham Anti-Itch Spray for helping with the hot spots and itchy skin that often occur during the weather changes.”
As pet parents hit the hiking trails or travel to pools and beaches, they often protect themselves with sunscreen, but neglect to think about the harmful effects of exposure to the animals that accompany them. Groomers can benefit by offering pet sun protection products as add-on extras and stocking products for purchase in the waiting area or atop the checkout counter. In addition to shampoos that deter parasites and conditioners intended to soften fur, Katia Duvall, account manager for Mr. Groom manufacturer Transcon Trading, advises groomers to recommend products that afford protection from the sun’s harmful rays while also nourishing skin and coat.
“During summertime, a groomer [should] use a good anti-flea shampoo and a good detangle conditioner,” she says. “Also, it is recommended to use our Show Groom Conditioner spray that contains vitamin E and sunscreen. This is excellent for short-hair dogs or dogs that have a sensitivity to the sun.”
Though manufacturers are in agreement that producing safe, effective shampoos and conditioners is the goal of their business, some also want to change the conversation around how groomers purchase their products. Petology’s CDL (chief dog lover) Rick Ferritto and director of animal healthcare innovation Dr. David Jarvis have made a mission out of changing the industry since they entered the market five years ago.
“[Groomers] should insist on an accurate ingredient panel. There are a lot of ingredients that are damaging to the animal and the groomer over long-term use,” says Ferritto. “The ingredients aren’t designed to be used 10 to 12 times per day. We believe that down the road, they are going to be associated with serious health issues with these groomers.”
There is a lot of debate that surrounds the term “natural” as it appears on product labels, as no government regulation exists regarding the use of this word to describe goods. Many companies that sell nourishing bathing products worry that the unrestricted use of misleading words allows dishonest manufacturers to make unreliable claims and might deter groomers from buying the quality goods that are made by producers whose shampoos and conditioners use authentic naturally sourced ingredients. Jarvis believes in taking truth and transparency into his own hands.
“Ingredients have to be qualified to be legitimate as natural,” he says. “The first thing that we do, which is a little bit different, is that we list the name so the consumer can look it up and see it’s natural.”
While not all products that lack a comprehensive ingredient label will prove toxic to groomers and animals, they could threaten a business’ bottom line. If groomers must rewash pets with shampoos that don’t perform well during the initial application or use too many additional products to achieve a desired result, the risk of financial loss to the business could eventually push it toward the red.
With a bit of planning, groomers can develop a sense of how to approach the specific needs of their clientele while maintaining a profitable business. Most groomers enter the business to share their passion for animals and ensure proper care. To succeed, this passion and mission to provide care are necessary, but a keen sense of how to successfully manage product use and calculate need are also crucial.
“Value (often instinctively) is best defined by cost per unit of application,” says Greg Crisp, president of Double K Industries. “If a groomer can wash 70 dogs with a $30 gallon of concentrated shampoo, then the cost per dog is just under 43 cents. It is important for groomers to chart and understand these net costs because shampoos (and conditioners) represent a groomer’s greatest consumable expense.”
During the change of seasons, using too much of a particular product is neither economical nor efficient. By investing in a stock of quality products and creating a menu of relevant services for clients, groomers will help pets maintain healthy skin and coats throughout the summer, into autumn. Once consumers recognize a groomer’s expertise using these shampoos and conditioners as an asset, they will view scheduling regular appointments as an investment. As pet parents begin to trust groomers who are knowledgeable and can advise regarding the specific needs of their animals throughout the year, they will become repeat customers who recommend these services to their circle of pet-loving friends and family.